Earth Day is coming up in one week and I can’t help but reflect on the state of our world.
Scientists predict that we may lose half of all species on Earth by the end of this century. Our oceans will be affected most profoundly, losing five times more species than will be lost on land. As we go about our daily lives, the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is taking place – but it’s the first caused by a single species: humans.
Pollution, habitat loss, overfishing, global climate change and ocean acidification all contribute to this catastrophic loss. These non-discriminating forces threaten extraordinary and irreplaceable species, from the microscopic plankton responsible for most of the oxygen we breathe, to the great singing humpback whales. Although thousands of species of plants, animals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods are lost every year, the Holocene Extinction is notable for the disappearance of large mammals, also known as megafauna, which have dominated the top of the food chain.
I don’t disagree that human issues are important but in spite of the organizations that exist to protect animals, it’s still not enough to give a voice to creatures that otherwise have none. With a global population approaching 7 billion, the planet cannot keep up with the demands of human consumption. Animals are used, abused, exploited and eaten every day, all around the world. They almost always take a backburner to human wants and needs that are motivated by greed, money or entertainment. I truly believe that not nearly enough is done to respect and protect the other life forms we inhabit this world with.
As Earth Day approaches, I can only hope that it brings some much needed attention to some human habits that need to change. Most of the issues are so critical and overwhelming, it is easy for some people to turn a blind eye and ignore them rather than face them – but if we, as a species, work together we can make the changes necessary to save the planet – and ourselves.